Saturday, 29 November 2008

Is there a(nother) doctor in the house?

I am delighted to hear that the stars of the UK credit crisis still refuse to be hampered by their roles in the collapses of their respective banks.
First, Sir Derek Wanless, erstwhile chairman of Northern Rock's Audit and Risk committees, accepted an honorary degree from Coventry University (Lanchester Poly as was). And now I learn that former HBOS chief, Sir James Crosby - the visionary credited with switching the bank's focus from risk management to growth, as well as the man who hand-picked his own successor, Andy Hornby - is to collect another of these pointless (and vain) gongs.
Sir James will be made an honorary doctor of Bradford University for his "contribution to financial services and, in particular, in recognition of his achievements as chief executive of Halifax, then HBOS, and currently his board membership of the FSA," the Bradford Telegraph & Argus reports.
The paper's story appears under the headline Comedian to get honorary degree - a reference to a simultaneous award to funnyman, Mark Thomas. Probably.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Prride comes beforre a fall

Columnists who refer to themselves in the third person make me nervous.
In this morning's effort, the Telegraph's new Questor boy Garry White (two Rs is also suspiciously pretentious) managed it at least three times: "Questor thinks", "Questor believes" and "Questor is extremely confident".
Heading for a fall.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Reuters four year entitlement trumps Thomson twin

Trouble brewing at Thomson Reuters? Old Reuters employees at the merged financial information-cum-media group are entitled to four weeks of severance pay for every year's service, while Thomson staff get two. The discrepancy will be corrected, the company promises, but not until, er, 2010, leaving the former Thomson mob feeling rather vulnerable to any whackings that may need to be made next year. That's knowledge you can act on, as the company likes to say.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wouldn't you really rather have a Buik?

David Buik, the genial media star and market commentator at money broker BGC, is in his usual entertaining form during his daily email dispatch to the City today. "Judy Wallman, a professional genealogical researcher, discovered that Hillary Clinton's great-great uncle, Remus Rodham, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889," Buik confidently begins.

"The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription: 'Remus Rodham; horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889'."

"Judy e-mailed Hillary Clinton for information about her great-great uncle. Hillary's staff sent back the following biographical account: 'Remus Rodham was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad."

"In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honour when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed'."

"NOW THAT is how it's done folks!" says Buik. "THAT is SPIN."

Really? Others seem to believe it's a very old urban myth.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Riveting Trader Talk

Like most titles within major newspaper groups, the Evening Standard is slashing budgets and staff. So, will less and less resources ever become obvious to readers of columns such as today's Trader Talk? Of course not...

Monday, 24 November 2008


"[Businesses] have to play by the rules and there are different rules in place today than there were last year and the year after" - Dragons' Den star, Theo Paphitis, today, explaining to Sky News viewers how business has changed during the credit crisis.

A unique opportunity (again)

Another day, another high-profile vacancy in public sector banking. This time, the Government is seeking a successor to Paul Spencer as chairman of National Savings & Investments, the state-owned bank that's an executive agency of HM Treasury.
"NS&I occupies a unique position in British public life," the job ad entices - which is one way of looking at it. Sadly, banks controlled from 1 Horse Guards Road are now decidedly less unique than they once were.

Friday, 21 November 2008


JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin outside the Royal Courts of Justice at lunchtime today. Unusually for the casual-dressing, mullet-loving Tim, pictured, he was wearing a suit. Was he in the dock for crimes against hairstyles? Amazingly not. JDW is actually suing its former property adviser Van de Berg for fraud and breach of contract.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Separated at birth?

Sign of the Times

As thousands of City types lose their jobs, at least they can console themselves with moves into the UK's one major growth industry - the public sector.
Job ads in the Business Leaders section of today's FT ask for non-execs of the UK Financial Investments Ltd - effectively Britain's sovereign wealth (sic) fund which manages stellar investments such as Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley - while there are more part-time directors required at the Tote, the state-run bookmaker.
It's a sign of our (Financial) Times.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Long shooters

Ladbrokes says it is suffering at the hands of the recession. Rival bookie Paddy Power is too. Meanwhile, William Hill has begun talks with its banks about restructuring its £1.2billion debt, while I hear that Cheltenham is panicking over the lack of corporate hospitality bookings for next year's Festival.
So here’s a brave move by Tote PR men Paul Petrie and Damian Walker, who have come up with the bright idea of quitting their jobs to, er, start a new bookmaking firm.
Odds on it proving a winner? Longish ones, I’d wager.

Finance gap weighs heavy on Jowell

With Tessa Jowell admitting that the Government would never have bid for the Olympics during a recession - and having dipped into the Games' £1bn contingency fund to keep building work going on the London Olympic village last month - are there any further details to worry taxpayers concerned about waste on this vanity project? Naturally. The Olympic Delivery Authority is still searching for a Head of Finance. Most reassuring.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Ashamed to name

The Telegraph's City Diarist, Jonathan Russell, quotes a study by investment website, Digital Look, which reveals that analysts tipping shares as a “strong buy” have seen their picks slump by 45%. “The only thing lacking from Digital Look's research is naming and shaming the 80-odd financial houses responsible,” Russell sneers.
Presumably, then, it was only space constraints that prevented Russell from naming and shaming his own colleagues on the Telegraph's Questor share tipping column. Of the six sure-fire winners they chose as their “tips of the year”, one is in profit (up 17%) while the other five are all heavily down, having lost 18%, 59%, 38%, 38% and 45% respectively.